restricted access "Hady": A Traditional Bard's Praise Song for an Urban Teenager

This paper examines traditional and innovating elements in a praise performance organized by a hereditary bard in 2002 for a twenty-year-old from a prominent family in Segu (Mali). It shows the importance of a detailed knowledge of the youth's network of social relationships for understanding the oral text. Special attention is given to the circumstances that led to the composition of a praise song for so young a person (a most unusual event), to its implicit and explicit views on familial and other interpersonal relationships, and to the articulation of images and references drawn from the older oral literature, including the Segu epic, with ones grounded in twentieth-century social experience.